Is it Safe to Rely on Short-Term Loans When You’re Strapped for Cash?

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When you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, emergency expenses can send you into a state of panic. Easy access to money when you need it is typically what an emergency fund is for. But if you aren’t in a position to save, you likely don’t have cash to fall back on during those unexpected times. So what do you do?

This is where short-term loans (commonly called short-term cash loans or payday loans) may come in handy. It seems like a perfect solution: a loan you can get approved for within hours with cash transferred to your account immediately. But with any type of debt comes a list of serious things to consider.

So should you rely on short-term loans when strapped for cash?

The answer: only if you are out of options.

What are short-term loans?

Short-term loans typically require repayment within 90 days. Sometimes it’s by your next payday (hence the common term “payday loan”). Since these types of loans have to be paid back so quickly, they’re usually only given in small amounts

Once applied for, the loan terms are reviewed and either approved or denied within hours. Then the money is deposited directly into your bank account.

Pros of short-term payday loans

Short-term cash and payday loans can provide financial flexibility to people who live paycheck-to-paycheck. Since the funds are deposited to your bank account, you have instant access and can use the money any way you want.

Another benefit to short-term loans is their flexibility. There are now more online lending options that allow you to apply at any time day or night. Because so many online lenders are now available, there’s no need to go to a bank or loan office during business hours.

Plus, as you repay your loan and build up a reliable history with your lender, you are more likely receive higher loan amounts in the future. While you wouldn’t want to rely on this type of financial service too often, it could be useful to know that you have emergency cash available if you ever need it.

Cons of short-term cash loans

Let’s talk about the number one reason you shouldn’t use a short-term loan: it’s the most expensive type of debt you can carry.  And yes, it can be even more expensive than carrying a balance on your credit cards.

Interest rates on short-term loans are often much, much higher than the typical loan offered by a bank or private lender: upwards of 400% APR. That’s $15-$30 for every $100 you borrow.

You can also be hit with hefty charges if you don’t repay the loan on time. Since you are expected to pay off the loan within a short time frame, you should only consider a short-term loan if you are 100 percent confident in your ability to pay it back by your next paycheck and have no other cash advance options.

And, like any loan, be prepared to have your credit checked. Your credit will also be affected if you are unable to make payments.

Bottom line: short-term loans can be dangerous and are generally considered predatory financial products. After all, there’s a reason Google recently decided to ban payday loan ads. As Google reps reported, “Research has shown that these loans can result in unaffordable payment and high default rates for users.”

Normally, it’s the people who don’t have access to credit or savings accounts that use this type of loan. If they don’t have good credit or savings, they’re unlikely to have the kind of income and/or financial skills necessary to pay back the loan in full and on time. Thus, a cycle of expensive debt occurs, keeping borrowers forever indebted and unable to get on solid financial footing.

Should you take out a short-term loan?

If you have good credit, know that you will have the funds needed to repay your loan as quickly as possible, and aren’t worried about high interest rates, you could be a good candidate for a short-term loan. Again, because of the expense involved in taking out a short-term payday loan, it’s really only a last-resort option.

Instead, consider a personal loan for major expenses if you don’t have access to emergency savings or a credit card. The best personal loans charge lower interest rates, fewer fees, and offer a longer repayment period so you’re not caught in a cycle of borrowing.

Short-term cash loans can be a slippery slope. High interest rates and fees can make a financial emergency into a much larger debt problem that can be hard to escape if you aren’t careful. Avoid them at all costs and educate yourself about the alternatives to short-term loans.

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

RATES (APR)loan amount
5.72% – 16.99%1 $5,000 to $100,000
7.54% – 35.99% $1,000 to $50,000
7.99% – 35.89%* $1,000 to $50,000
56.00% – 199.00%2 $500 to $4,000
5.99% – 24.99%3 $5,000 to $35,000
5.99% – 29.99%4 $7,500 to $40,000
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1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Fixed rates from 5.990% APR to 16.990% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 5.72% APR to 14.60% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of February 15, 2019 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 5.72% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 2.49% plus 4.28% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.
  2. To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull.
    See Consumer Licenses.
  3. Minimum Credit Score: Not all applicants who meet SoFi’s minimum credit score requirements are approved for a personal loan. In addition to meeting SoFi’s minimum eligibility criteria, applicants must also meet other credit and underwriting requirements to qualify.
  4. SoFi Personal Loans are not available to residents of MS. Maximum interest rate on loans for residents of AK and WY is 9.99% APR, for residents of IL with loans over $40,000 is 8.99% APR, for residents of TX is 9.99% APR on terms greater than 5 years, for residents of CO, CT, HI, VA, SC is 11.99% APR, and for residents of ME is 12.24% APR. Personal loans not available to residents of MI who already have a student loan with SoFi. Personal Loans minimum loan amount is $5,000. Residents of AZ, MA, and NH have a minimum loan amount of $10,001. Residents of KY have a minimum loan amount of $15,001. Residents of PA have a minimum loan amount of $25,001. Variable rates not available to residents of AK, TX, VA, WY, or for residents of IL for loans greater than $40,000.
  5. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)
2 Important Disclosures for Opploans.

Opploans Disclosures

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Opploans currently operates in these states:

  1. To qualify, a borrower must (i) be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident; (ii) reside in a state where OppLoans operates; (iii) have direct deposit; (iv) meet income requirements; (v) be 18 years of age (19 in Alabama); and, (vi) meet verification standards.
  2. This information is current as of October 10, 2017 and is subject to change. Opportunity Financial, LLC lends or arranges loans in the following states: Alabama, California, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. We do not lend or arrange loans in all states. Opportunity Financial offers line of credit products in: Kansas, Tennessee and Virginia. Please note: This is an expensive form of credit. This service is not intended to provide a solution for longer-term credit or other financial needs. Loans made or arranged by Opportunity Financial are designed to help you meet your short-term borrowing needs. Loan amounts may vary and are dependent upon qualification criteria and state law. Refer to Loan Cost & Terms at www.opploans.com for additional details. Complete disclosures of APR, fees and payment terms are provided within the transaction documents, such as the Loan Agreement. First-time Opportunity Financial customers typically qualify for an installment loan of $1,000 to $5,000 with an APR from 59% to 199%. For example, a $1,000 loan made or arranged by Opportunity Financial with 12 bi-weekly payments of $130 has a 199% APR. After the 12th successful payment, the loan would be paid in full.
  3. Applications processed and approved before 7:30 p.m. ET Monday-Friday are typically funded the next business day. In some cases, we may not be able to verify your application information and may ask you to provide certain documents. Some customers applying for a loan may be required to submit additional documentation due to state law and qualification criteria.
  4. Lower APRs and longer terms when compared to a typical payday lending product. According to the Consumer Federation of America, a non-profit consumer advocacy group, payday loans range in size from $100 to $1,000, depending on state legal maximums and carry an average APR of 400% and an average loan term of two weeks. The maximum APR for a loan offered by OppLoans is 199% and loan sizes range from $1,000-$5,000 with a typical term of six months dependent on the state law.
  5. As of October 17, 2017. Ratings on third-party websites may periodically change; please check the third-party websites for up-to-date reviews and ratings. Google+ Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 1,824 reviews. Facebook Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 270 reviews.
3 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Payoff.

Payoff Disclosures

  1. All loans are subject to credit review and approval. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, credit usage and history. Currently loans are not offered in: MA, MS, NE, NV, OH, and WV.
4 Important Disclosures for FreedomPlus.

FreedomPlus Disclosures

  1. All loans available through FreedomPlus.com are made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. All loan and rate terms are subject to eligibility restrictions, application review, credit score, loan amount, loan term, lender approval, and credit usage and history. Eligibility for a loan is not guaranteed. Loans are not available to residents of all states – please call a FreedomPlus representative for further details. The following limitations, in addition to others, shall apply: FreedomPlus does not arrange loans in: (i) Arizona under $10,500; (ii) Massachusetts under $6,500, (iii) Ohio under $5,500, and (iv) Georgia under $3,500. Repayment periods range from 24 to 60 months. The range of APRs on loans made available through FreedomPlus is 5.99% to a maximum of 29.99%. APR. The APR calculation includes all applicable fees, including the loan origination fee. For Example, a four year $20,000 loan with an interest rate of 15.49% and corresponding APR of 18.34% would have an estimated monthly payment of $561.60 and a total cost payable of $7,948.13. To qualify for a 5.99% APR loan, a borrower will need excellent credit on a loan for an amount less than $12,000.00, and with a term equal to 24 months. Adding a co-borrower with sufficient income; using at least eighty-five percent (85%) of the loan proceeds to directly pay off qualifying existing debt; or showing proof of sufficient retirement savings, could help you also qualify for the lowest rate available.
* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.

Upgrade Bank Disclosures

* Your loan terms are not guaranteed and are subject to our verification and review process. You may be asked to provide additional documents to enable us to verify your income and your identity. This rate includes an Autopay APR reduction of 0.5%. By enrolling in Autopay your payments will be automatically deducted from you bank account. Selecting Autopay is optional. Annual Percentage Rate is inclusive of a loan origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. All loans made by WebBank, member FDIC. Please refer to Upgrade’s Terms of Use and Borrower Agreement for all terms, conditions and requirements.

** Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank via ACH within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes this transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days.